Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Historically Speaking: 3-3-09

It's Tuesday here inside the House of Georges, and you know what that means: It's our weekly show-up-at-work-drunk extravaganza. Either that or we're just one day closer to Friday. Never can remember which. Whatever side of that coin you're on, it's all about makin' that dollar. As usual, we kick off the day with stats on a few folks that were able to earn their pennies via sports. Lucky SOBs.

* And so it went: In 1875, the first recorded hockey game was played in Montreal. I'm not really sure what that means. I mean, did they have like multiple series of courtroom witness-stand-like sketches? Did someone audio tape the thing? Was audio tape even invented yet? Or simply, did someone take note of the occurrence and write it down with a feather pen and some primitive paper?

* Typically, I tend to avoid reliving sports moments when they involve figure skating or men's tennis or swimming. I will, however, make an exception if your birthname is Cockie Gastelaars, and in 1956, a man by that very name broke the 100-meter freestyle world record when he swam it in one minute, four seconds, two tenths. If I were ever that fast in the water, I'd feel gastastically cocky as well.

* We skip ahead some 42 years and examine the historical moment that took place in baseball's Hall of Fame in 1998: Larry Doby became the first black American Leaguer elected into Cooperstown. The long-time Cleveland Indian retired with a career .283 batting average, 253 homers, 1000 RsBI, and a .490 slugging percentage. The seven-time all-star went to two World Series, and his club won one of them. It took baseball 40 years to elect Doby into the hall. The positives are that he did get in, and he did so before he died in 2003. The negatives are that it took so long to get such a sportsman in, and maybe even worse: he died in New Jersey. Such a shame.

* Near the end of the last century, when John Ruiz hit the professional-boxing scene, I thought for some time that he symbolized a potential rebirth in fighting's return to greatness. I have yet to see the sport regain the stature it held from the 1940s through the early 90s, but it was on this day in 2001 that Ruiz defeated Evander Holyfield via unanimous decision to become the first Hispanic WBA champion. The bout was a rematch from the previous summer that saw Holyfield win the decision. He would keep the belt for one year, successfully defending his title three times, but losing it the following March to Roy Jones, Jr. He would win the belt back in 2004, having previously defeated Hasim Rahman.

* Finally, with all the ado over the upcoming World Baseball Classic, it's only fitting that we acknowledge the opener of the 2006 WBC, which happened in Tokyo three years ago today.

And your Sports Illustrated quote of the day is especially HoG-tastic today as it came from the mouth of...

...former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey's wife Lisa. When asked in 1999 about her husband's latest concussion, Lisa said, "When he didn't remember our anniversary, I knew he was O.K."